Monday, May 16, 2011
Dan Callahan

It was interesting to note lately that the nation’s four space agencies, NASA, the NRO, Missile Defense Agency and the Army’s Space and Missile Systems Command are collaborating over support tasks and mission areas that they share in common.  Things like launch infrastructure and engineering as well as strategic parts sourcing are probably on a list of common items.  When Congress fully gets hold of the idea, you may see GAO reporting on the subject, too.  This makes too much sense to not pursue.  As with all trends in the federal market, the challenge is figuring how to monetize this shift in policy and execution.


I am no soothsayer, but over the coming months, be on the lookout for similar alliances among federal agencies in the area of smart sourcing.  This will include human capital, parts, services and anything else that can be shared.  A case in point is that OMB has mandated that data centers will be combined, collapsed and otherwise virtualized.   (I believe these will be divided along the lines of security enclave boundaries that various agencies share, UNCLASS but sensitive being the most quantitative.)  We have seen similar micro trends that support the overall idea… who would ever have contemplated the Joint Base concept and purplized (i.e. joint) medical care system in the DoD (specifically, TRICARE)?


These are anathema to our parent’s generation of post WWII military organizations.   Two more examples to drive home the point: there are eleven major agencies and about sixty additional that depend on foreign language training (FLT) in order to accomplish their mission.  Wow.  If this is your area of domain expertise, to how many of these agencies is your firm selling?  And did you know that the CIA is only one of about a dozen agencies that perform serious HUMINT services.  If this is your area of focus, then how many of the dozen are you in so far? 


It is atypical for a function, task or mission area to be performed (truly) by just one--and only one federal agency.  As a product or services provider, where can you take your core offering and leverage this into a different agency, but stay within your area of domain expertise?  Take some time this winter to brainstorm with both your own team and an outsider or advisor who is in a position to know the answer to this question: “Having succeeded where we have so far, what are five other logical targets that we should be pursuing?”


Good hunting.  Can you add to my examples of federal agencies creating alliances among themselves?